May 13, 2003 (37th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Ghislain Fournier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ghislain Fournier (Manicouagan, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last night, when I had the floor, I was going to talk about softwood lumber, but unfortunately, I ran out of time.
What I wanted to say about the softwood lumber issue is that the budget contained nothing to deal with the crisis. HRDC's plan for workers affected by the softwood lumber crisis has been condemned by everyone. The measures that have been announced to help these workers are utterly inadequate, as you know.
Certain ministers promised a second stage for the softwood lumber assistance program. The budget contains no funding for this stage, as though the government had forgotten its promises. Are there many people who are surprised that the federal government is forgetting its promises?
Many people are disappointed. Their needs are still not being met because the provinces are not receiving the resources they need from the federal government to meet these needs.
The list of significant measures not mentioned in this budget is a long one. There is no reduction in the excise tax on gasoline; no reduction of the GST per litre of gasoline; no further decrease in income taxes; no appreciable short-term improvement in the RRSP contribution ceiling; no increase in the pension adjustment amount; nothing in the budget for senior citizens; no substantial reduction in employment insurance contributions; no improvement in old age security pensions; no provision to recover taxes on hidden salaries; no tax deduction for volunteer work; and no additional deduction for charitable donations.
The federal government has no respect for the elected representatives in Quebec and the provinces, who are making their constituents' needs known loud and clear. And it has no respect for municipal representatives, nor the citizens who are living in a state of crisis the government itself has created, such as the fishers, for example.
At present, the fishers of the Lower North Shore are occupying the offices of MAPAQ, which is the department of agriculture, fisheries and nutrition, and of Economic Development Canada, since the government has plunged these workers, these fishers, into an unprecedented crisis. It is not their fault; it is the fault of the government and of the Minister of Fisheries, who did not plan ahead. In the five years the seal population has been left unmanaged, it has risen from 1.8 million to 7 million.
I will close by saying that we are very disappointed. Decisions must be made, and they must be made now.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
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